Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1975. Aries Productions, Paramount Pictures, Sujac Productions. Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, based on the novel by Jacqueline Susann. Cinematography by John A. Alonzo. Produced by Howard W. Koch. Music by Henry Mancini. Production Design by John DeCuir. Costume Design by Moss Mabry. Film Editing by Rita Roland. Academy Awards 1975. Golden Globe Awards 1975.
The third adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s books, and the first one produced after her premature death in 1973, this is still an enjoyable if ridiculous soaper. Kirk Douglas plays a big-time Hollywood producer on the decline whose daughter (a fresh and amiable Deborah Raffin) has come home from months in rehab following a devastating motorcycle accident. Short on cash and desperate to make sure she lives in the lap of luxury, Douglas marries a Barbara Hutton-esque heiress (a gorgeous Alexis Smith) and gives up his career, much to his daughter’s chagrin. She, in turn, meets a novelist (David Janssen) with whom her father has been on the outs for years, unable to resist the opportunity to get initiated into her sexuality with a replacement for her beloved dad. Brenda Vaccaro has a terrific supporting role as a magazine editor (reportedly based on Helen Gurley Brown) whose entire self-esteem is based on bedding every single man in New York City, while Melina Mercouri appears in an all-too-brief supporting role as the woman (based, allegedly, on Greta Garbo) with a secret connection to Smith. The film is a veritable soap opera splashed on the big screen in apologetically garish tones, but the characters are all amiable and it stays fun even when it unwisely move towards a focus on the romance between its naïve heroine and her stereotypically jaded older lover. The fireworks between Douglas and Smith would have been a much better bet, but it’s still a good and nostalgic time to be had.